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Victory! Judge rules against wildlife-killing program in Idaho

Western Watersheds Project et al v. USDA Wildlife Services
Won, Opening remedies brief filed August 31, 2018.
Case No.
Date Filed
May 13, 2017
State, Venue
Idaho, Idaho Federal District Court
Talasi Brooks (Advocates for the West), Laurie Rule (Advocates for the West), Kristin Ruether (Western Watersheds Project)
In a crucial win for Idaho’s wildlife, a federal judge ruled that the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services wildlife-killing program (Wildlife Services) failed to properly analyze the environmental impacts of lethal predator control conducted systematically across the state. The July 2018 decision resolves a lawsuit filed in May 2017 by a consortium of conservation groups, including Guardians, challenging Wildlife Services’ plan to continue and expand its program of aerial gunning, poisoning, trapping, and other killing of species including coyotes, black bears, and mountain lions, among many others. The eradication plan, which the program attempts to justify as a means for reducing livestock depredation, was approved without a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which the judge found violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Recent studies cited by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Idaho Fish and Game Department in their comments on Wildlife Services’ plan show that predator-killing campaigns have little efficacy in protecting livestock and instead have deleterious effects on ecosystem health. Wildlife Services uses a number of dangerous and indiscriminate killing methods, including M-44 cyanide bombs and cruel leg-hold traps, which have killed and injured non-target animals ranging from threatened and endangered species to family dogs. Wildlife Services uses millions of taxpayer dollars each year to carry out its killing campaigns, and yet much of the agency’s activities are intentionally concealed from the public. This ruling not only forces a much-needed review of Wildlife Services’ harmful and indiscriminate actions, but further daylights the terrors of the federally sanctioned program.